Cool Colors: Kuler for iOS, free dekeDiagraming, and Other Stuff

Color. Such a compelling visual attribute that Sir Isaac Newton, smart guy with a lot of important things to think about, stuck a bodkin in his eye to study the colors it would produce. Oh, by the way, a bodkin, according to Wikipedia is a long, blunt, sewing needle kind of thing. Well, plague was raging, so I guess sticking a metal stick in your eye in the name of science wasn't such a big deal. 

You my friends, don't have to go to such extremes to consider the wonder of color in your surroundings. In fact, this week, Adobe released a (free) version of its Kuler (Kool-er) application for iOS (and updated the web version). Kuler allows you to create five-color themes that you can save, share, or (with the impending release of Illustrator CC) sync. And the new app allows you to extract those themes directly from the world around you. 

For instance, you can take a photograph---like this one I shot at Frama Coffee in Marfa, Texas, specifically for its interesting combination of color---and then create themes based on the colors within. You can use one of Kuler's five preset theme-templates, like these:

Or because, I'm a notoriously cold woman who likes her colors cool, I can drag the little circles around to create my own Custom set of colors. Like this: Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 222: Creating a Protective Aura around Your 2D Character

Deke's Techniques 222: Creating a Protective Aura around Your 2D Character

My dear dekeIpeds, imagine if you will, our curious, if unsuspecting necrowalrus, just trying to get through his day without being contaminated by random sprays of BLUDE, vee-OH-lence, or crud hue-MORE. The weight of the world, crushing his spirit. Boom-shaka-laka. If you don't know what the heel I'm talking about, you've completely missed or possibly ignored last week's Deke's Techniques post, in which Deke created this charming character and I shared a totally awesome promo movie for Battleblock Theater. 

Anyway, with all that crap going on, our guy needs a glowing red aura to keep evilness and incivility at bay. In this week's free movie, Deke shows you how do just that, using Illustrator's dynamic effects. 

You can adapt this relatively simple (once you get everything in place) technique to protect any creature you like:  Read more » 

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The Long-Awaited Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Mastery (Now with Free Samples)

This week, I bring you one of the best things on earth: free samples. And I don't mean samples of some disgustingly healthy, fat-free, high-fiber cardboard-esque reconstituted potato-chip substitute; no, today, I've got full-flavor, indulgently informative free videos to whet your appetite for Deke's new course at CS6 One-on-One: Mastery. Both good for you and truly delicious. And calorie-free, if it comes to that.

Mastery is the fourth level in Master Deke's One-on-One series, so this course covers some powerful vector-wrangling features. But don't be daunted, these helpful features are explained with Deke's usual care and clarity. Don't just take my word for it, savor the delicacies I've spread before you here. The folks at always make a percentage of each course free for the sampling, and I've included many of those treats here. (And if you'd like the full meal deal and you're not a member of, you can get a free week's subscription by going to Here's what you can expect:

Chapter 33: Using Smart Guides
You probably sense that Smart Guides are convenient for aligning aspects of your work on the fly, but in this chapter, Deke reveals some of the hidden ways you can exploit Smart Guides to create finely crafted artwork. For your consideration, check out this movie that not only helps you draw custom letters, but also is part of a heart-warming story of a man trying to create a logo for his son: 

Free Sample: Hand-drawing letters as stroked paths

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Deke's Technique 220: Creating a Distinctive 2D Video Game Character in Illustrator

Deke's Technique 220: Creating a Distinctive 2D Video Game Character in Illustrator

In last week's episode of Deke's Techniques, Deke shared the prosaic, but presumably helpful, process of extending your Illustrator artwork all the way to the bleed. In the course of that video, however, he inadvertently introduced the world to his distractingly compelling character, the Necrowalrus, who happened to be the subject of the artwork in question. 

Just how attention-grabbing was the tangential introduction of Deke's elusive non-existent video game character? Well, I think this tweet says is all:  

So this week, Deke reveals how to draw some key components of his delightful game-changing Necrowalrus in Illustrator. Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 218: Precisely Aligning Illustrator Artwork to the Bleed

Precisely Aligning Artwork to the Bleed

This week's Deke's Techniques episode explains how to create Illustrator artwork that extends all the way to the bleed.

Deke and I have been arguing (benevolently) about how to describe bleed. It's basically the allowance you put around your image to ensure that the ink goes all the way to the edge of the page---and does so even if the printer's registration is slightly misaligned. In other words, practically speaking, it's the allowance you put around your image to ensure the ink goes off the edge leaving not the slightest sliver of un-inked whiteness behind. 

This means you want both your purple background and your "necrowalrus's" costume to extend out beyond any bit of potentially crop-able space:

This means that you have to extend the edges of your image to include extra stuff: background and stretchable elements of your illustration that may or may not be included in the final print. It's an art. It's a science. And in Illustrator, it takes a little finesse to align the relevant bits of your document to and all the way through this safety zone. If you're creating graphics and you have any thought of ever printing them on paper, then this week's episode is definitely worth checking out.  Read more » 

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